It happened! The First Annual Verruktes Donnerbrau Festival came off and it was almost entirely smooth sailing. A score of dedicated brewers showed up and dove into brewing 25 unique beer recipes, in what we believe is a Guinness record for most homebrew batches in one day–seriously, it looks like this is a thing and we hold the record.
Brewing was held downstairs at Fraser Mills, and when brewers showed up at 9 am the hot liquor tanks were full and at temperature, so they swung right into action.
Most of the mashing was done in the ten Grainfathers/Robobrews that participants brought. By doughing in from an HLT brewers were able to hit strike temp immediately, and get through a short ‘n’ shoddy (20 minute) mash.
The bigger brews, like Wee Heavy, Russian Imperial Stout, and an inexplicably huge Rauchbier, were mashed more traditionally in false-bottom mash tuns. This allowed is to do a dozen beers at a time.
When the mash was complete the beers were sparged into waiting propane-fired kettles. 110 volt Grainfathers are slow to boil, which would have resulted in a bottle-neck. By using a high -powered propane burner and a kettle beers got boiling in only minutes.
The beers were all First Wort Hopped and boiled for a total of 20 minutes. This made it possible to get through all of the batches in one day, but all of the shorty ‘n’ shoddy procedures necessitated some recipe design changes–more grain to compensate for reduced efficiency, more hops because of lower utilisation, altered late hopping schedules, etc.
Once boiled the beers were chilled down with immersion chillers–it’s a fast and easy way to get them down to yeast-pitching temperatures. As much as possible we recaptured the heat-exchanged water for the hot liquor tank to conserve energy.
Once they were chilled, the beers were poured into carboys to await the people who will ferment them. Some were even measured to see what the specific gravity (original sugar content) was, but that information wasn’t included on the brewing sheets.
Nope, instead the beers were tagged with a secret code, divorcing their identity from the people who brewed them, so as not to provide a single clue to those who are going to ferment them. Wacky, we know.
After that it was grab another recipe, get your strike water, and brew all over again.
We did make time for a lunch break, because it was hard work all day long.
After the last beer was done and dusted it was time for cleanup and general tidying–plus, many of the beers got picked up right away, and that meant that the fermenters needed yeast.
We were lucky enough this year to be sponsored by Imperial yeast, and many brewers chose to add a pack of one of their excellent strains to their beer.
Mostly the day went off without any problems. We adopted a new festival motto, “Not Yet a Failure”, to go with our judging motto, “Not Undrinkably Flawed”. The question is, will we be doing it again?
Wouldn’t miss it for the world.